Before friends and family can gather and enjoy this week, they’ll have to deal with the miser of the season: travel.
After a low year in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people traveling for vacations between December 23 and January 2 is expected to rise to normal size this year, reaching 92 percent from 2019 levels, according to AAA Nevada.
It is estimated that 109 million people will travel during this stretch, 100 million are expected to travel to their destinations and 6 million are expected to travel by plane.
“With vaccines widely available, conditions vary a lot and many people feel more comfortable traveling, but travelers will still be aware of the pandemic and the new omicron variant,” AAA Nevada spokesperson Sergio Avila said in a statement.
Las Vegas is the number one vacation destination based on hotel reservations, according to a report by RetailMeNot and Priceline. Sin City ranks third in the top destinations by flights.
The report notes that 31 percent of travelers indicated they had to spend time with friends and family, while 20 percent chose to go out of town to take advantage of their paid vacation at work.
Those who stay in Las Vegas pay an average of $130 per night for a hotel room and $314 for flights, RetailMeNot and Priceline report.
Commuters hitting the road can expect to pay more at the pump, with the national average for regular unleaded gasoline at $3.31 a gallon as of Friday, according to the AAA. The Las Vegas average is well above $3.82 a gallon, with the statewide average higher at $3.87 a gallon.
If your flights include Harry Reid International Airport, formerly McCarran, here are some tips from airport officials:
If you’re traveling with gifts, consider wrapping them after you reach your destination. Wrapped gifts are allowed, but if an item sets off an alarm, security officers may have to unpack it to check. Gifts wrapped in hand luggage or checked baggage are subject to potential search.
Passengers are still required to wear masks at the airport, on planes and on other airport-related transportation, under a federal mandate.
– Parking in Terminal 1 can now be paid for via mobile payment options, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Some of the airport’s parking facilities, such as the terminal 1 long-term garage and the economy car park in Terminal 3, are expected to reach capacity. Once capacity is reached, passengers will be redirected to available parking facilities.
If you are parking in the economy parking lot of Terminal 1, add at least one hour to your plan to use the free shuttle.
Passengers over the age of 18 no longer need to show their boarding pass at security checkpoints at Harry Reid Airport.
The Transportation Security Administration has installed credential authentication technology modules at all security checkpoints that use only the passenger ID photo.
Delays are possible, especially due to weather issues. Even if the weather isn’t an issue in Las Vegas, it may be in other cities that can affect the grid. Travelers should prepare for potential delays by bringing snacks, childcare essentials, medication, and anything else of immediate importance.
No matter what mode one chooses to travel with, being prepared for a trip is essential. AAA provided the following advice:
Be proactive: Book flights, car rentals, hotels, and any activities planned for a trip ahead of time.
Be patient: With travel back to near-normal levels, travelers should prepare for the influx of people on roads and airports. For domestic flights, AAA suggests arriving at the airport two hours before departure and three hours before international flights.
Traffic Anticipation: With 100 million people expected to drive during the holidays, motorists should anticipate slowdowns and be prepared in the event of breakdowns.
Contact Mick Akers at Akers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. He follows mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.